When Disneyland opened Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge less than three months ago there was a lot of fanfare – a lot of pressure for the $1.4 billion investment to be a success. We decided to check it out for ourselves.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is located in the north-eastern corner of Disneyland and takes up 56,000 square metres of space and took five years to bring to life.
After Disney purchased Lucasfilm and set an ambitious schedule of new films, incorporating Star Wars into an even larger presence at Disneyland was just a matter of time.
So has Disney’s gamble paid off?
Just this week there were reports Disney’s attendance was down three per cent and the expected high crowds at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge hadn’t materialised.
What we can tell you for ourselves that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is an amazing achievement and a remarkable section of the Star Wars universe that has been brought to life.
Crowd levels were solid – as much as other areas of the park – and you could still easily find your way around.
Here’s our review of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge:
WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?
We are massive Star Wars fans and, like a lot of other people around the world, any mention of the franchise will get our attention.
But not everyone is as fanatical as us.
The minute Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened we made plans to get here as soon as we could.
The opportunity wad this week and we weren’t disappointed.
Just seeing the life-size version of the Millennium Falcon almost brought a tear to our eyes.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is meant to be the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Baatu where the evil First Order has an obvious presence but the Resistance is building.
Unlike the other lands at Disneyland, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is designed to be more than just rides and the opportunity to get a photo with a stormtrooper.
The vision for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was far greater. It was meant to allow visitors to create their own story and adventure.
The cast members (what Disneyland calls their employees) are all in on their roles and they all stay in character.
As I was lining up for the Smuggler’s Run ride aboard the Millennium Falcon, I asked one of the staff members how long they had been working at Disneyland.
She replied she has been living on Baatu her entire life.
Even store workers talk about wishing to visit my planet when they hear I’m from Australia.
And they don’t talk about things costing dollars and cents. If an item is $7.99 – they say it is 8.64 credits (including tax) – but they do accept cash and all major credit cards.
I bought a hat in one of the stores and the man on the counter offered me the receipt “just in case you get stopped by the troopers”.
I thought this was a great touch and helped you get immersed in this amazing world.
The place itself is remarkable with so much attention to detail that will have Star Wars fans spotting various objects and creatures and masks and ships.
Even if you’re not a diehard fan, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge would still be appealing because it lets you step into the world.
Now if you expect to see Darth Vader, the old school storm troopers and Luke Skywalker you’re going to be disappointed.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is set very much in the sequel trilogy timeline after Episode VII The Force Awakens and Episode VIII The Last Jedi.
This will appeal to the kids and your family who were growing up with these new chapters.
But for everyone else, from a tragic fan like myself to those even with mild interest in Star Wars will really enjoy Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
You’ll see Chewbacca and Rey and the First Order stormtroopers and, if you’re lucky, Kylo Ren will make an appearance.
And they all stay in character asking if you’re a Resistance sympathiser or if you’d like to join the First Order.
They don’t just stand there like Mickey Mouse and pose for pictures all the time.
Sometimes they do, it just depends on their mood and what’s happening around them.
We went to enquire about the lightsabre building at Savi’s workshop and when the woman behind the counter spotted the First Order storm troopers she quickly removed the lightsaber information from the counter until they left the area.
Even though there is only one ride open – Smuggler’s Run (another ride, Rise of the Resistance is opening in January) – there is still a lot to do at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to another world.
You can’t see the outside world from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge – you can’t even see the other parts of Disneyland.
There are experiences, encounters and a very clever treasure hunt app to enjoy.
And of course plenty of places to eat and buy merchandise.
This is the only ride open in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at the moment and is a fun experience that will literally get you into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and take the controls.
All of my childhood fantasies of flying the Millennium Falcon were fulfilled on this ride.
When you arrive to come aboard you’re assigned one of six positions in the cockpit – with two pilots, two engineers and two gunners.
Each has their role to play and has to press buttons and pull levers and actually pilot the ship to complete the mission.
I was lucky enough to get the pilot role in the right-hand seat normally occupied by Chewbacca and my job was to control the ship going up and down. The left pilot’s job was to control left right.
These controls worked to a degree to make you feel like you were contributing, but the ride is pretty much on rails and holding the control just adds to the enjoyment.
The highlight for me was pulling the lever to send the Falcon into lightspeed. In that moment I was a child again and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The good thing about the ride is the attention to detail in the recreation of the interior of not only the cockpit but also the other areas of the ship which we have seen in the films including the circular holochess table and the padded circular passageways.
If the goal is to make you feel like you are actually on the Millennium Falcon – the ride creators have succeeded admirably.
BUILD A LIGHTSABER AND A DROID
Visitors have the opportunity to build their own lightsaber and create their own astro-mech droid.
We opted to build our own lightsaber but a lot of the younger visitors will no doubt prefer the Droid Depot which will allow them to construct their own controllable BB Series or R Series drawings and personalise them with various colours, domes, connection plates, bodies and motivators.
Each droid is priced at $US99.99 plus tax and comes with a carry box and instructions.
To build your own lightsabre, you need to make a booking through the app and, when it’s time for your session, you head to Savi’s Workshop.
This experience is priced at $US199.99 plus tax which brings it to $US215.
Users get to choose from one of four themes for their lightsaber – Peace and Justice, Power and Control, Elemental Nature and Protection and Defence.
We opted for Power and Control.
The experience begins when you are taken into the workshop by the Gatherers and given one of 12 stations inside.
The Gatherers talk to you about the mythology of the lightsaber and explain how it is powered by the various coloured Kyber crystals and take you through the colours the great Jedi and Sith have chosen before you.
You’re asked then to close your eyes and see which colour calls to you before you make your choice. The colour you choose will determined the colour of your blade when it is ignited.
We went for the green Kyber crystal and then a tray of parts was placed in front of us.
You start by inserting the crystal and then choose the activator, grips, emitter and pommel you prefer.
They are all metal pieces and are quite sturdy and we were impressed by the quality.
When you’re done, you’ve got quite a solid and heavy lightsaber handle in your hands.
After placing your completed lightsaber in front of you, the Gatherers come around and inspect each one before inserting it into a small portal below the desktop to attach your blade.
You are then asked to step forward to activate your lightsaber and it fires up and reveals the colour of the blade through the small window on the benchtop.
The panel slides open and you can see your completed lightsaber for the first time.
What you’re left with is a high-quality lightsaber that you designed.
The Gatherers provide a padded carry sleeve and then ask you to go make your mark in the universe.
We were keen to buy additional crystals for the lightsaber to be able to change the blade’s colour.
Remarkably, changing the crystal not only changes the colour of the blade but also the sound of the ignition and idle and motion sounds of the lightsabre.
So naturally we wanted more.
When we went to Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities to purchase the other crystals we were told we needed to buy a $US49.95 Jedi or Sith Holocron before we could buy another $US12.83 Kyber crystal – a total purchase now more than $US60
I knew that you were able to buy these individually when Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened but this is no longer the case.
I was given several reasons why you could not but then I found out the truth.
Customers have been buying every crystal available and then listing them on eBay at vastly inflated prices.
So what does Disneyland do? They forced customers to buy a $US50 item to buy a single crystal thinking this will deter opportunistic customers.
What it has done is made these other crystals people are selling on eBay even more valuable.
An item is valuable because it is rare but giving customers the opportunity to buy as many as they want would make these eBay listings even less important and bring the value back down to normal.
APP TREASURE HUNT
The Disneyland app is excellent – it helps visitors navigate the park, check out the wait times on rides and make FastPass reservations.
But within the app are also games you can play while waiting in line for your ride.
At Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars: Datapad lets you explore the area even further.
It’s like a virtual treasure hunt which uses Bluetooth and location-based services.
Users build a profile and earn points by hacking control panels, droids, ships and even the Millennium Falcon itself.
The hackable objects show up within the app when you are close by and you are given 45 seconds to solve the puzzle to complete the hack.
When successful there are various reactions from watching the buttons light up and make sounds to louder beeps and chirps and even making the Millennium Falcons lights turn on.
The Datapad also includes a scanner and users will notice numerous crates scattered around Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge which have QR codes on them.
Users scanned these codes and solve a puzzle to find out what’s inside and to include in their stash.
Players can even tune antennas to earn points and build up their profile and their credits to earn rewards.
There were many people who didn’t realise this was a possibility but we found it was a nice touch and made us want to explore Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge even more.
FOOD AND DRINK
And of course, you can’t be roaming the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge on an empty stomach and there are numerous places for you to eat.
At Docking Bay 7 you can choose exotically named meals of chicken, ribs or salads an order them through the Disneyland app.
We placed a mobile order and skipped the line at Docking Bay 7 and we had our food within 10 minutes.
On one day we had the Smoked Kaadu Ribs and the next have the Fried Endorian Tip-yip (crispy chicken) and both were excellent.
There are numerous other food stations including Oga’s Cantina where you can sample exotic concoctions for young and old – but here you need to make a reservation up to two weeks in advance.
You can also try the blue and green milk made famous in the Star Wars films and other frozen treats at the Milk Stand.
We gave the blue milk a try and it tasted like an icy fruit smoothie.
They also sell spherical Coke and Diet Coke bottles which are only available at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and make great souvenirs.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is amazing and is only going to get better as more rides are added and the experience is fine-tuned.
Whether you are an avid fan like us, have children who like Star Wars or are curious to experience life on another planet it is most definitely worth a visit.
The recent headlines of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge being a failure couldn’t be further from the truth.